Tell us your name, age, where you’re from?
My name is Isaiah Scott. I am 18 years old and I’m from Savannah, Georgia. Born and raised.
How are you liking it out here in California?
I’m just blown away, this is an amazing place. The scenery, the mountains, the open scrub fields — these giant forests! And the birdlife — the biodiversity is breathtaking. I’m speechless! It’s just so beautiful.
What’s been your favorite part so far?
Yesterday, when I saw the California quail for the first time. I was able to get really close to this beautiful bird and take pictures. I think that’s been my favorite experience. Just being able to see that bird, it’s a stunning bird. But I also enjoyed our walk on the path to the beach — in the valley of these hills. The area there was amazing.
Could you tell me how you got into birding?
All my life I had an interest in nature and animals, from a young age. It just kind of built as I grew older. I love lizards, fish, reptiles, amphibians… I kind of like all animals and thought some birds were pretty cool — but I didn’t really notice their beauty or was as interested in birds as I am now.
It was pretty much one experience that triggered my love for birds — when I had a chance to visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is in upstate New York.
My brother goes to school there so that’s why we went to visit. The lab is this beautiful facility on acres of preserve with marsh and forest, called Sapsucker Woods. They have this giant glass window that overlooks the lake and you can see different species of birds — like red-winged blackbirds, geese, and different songbirds.
But what I really loved about the place is they have this big wall of birds. It just showed the diversity of birds, all over the world; it was like a big map.
Just looking at that big mural — there are so many different kinds of birds out there! So many different colors, shapes, sizes. I was just amazed by the diversity of birds and that’s how I got interested. I was like, “Well, what kind of birds could I see?” or “How many different types of birds could I go out and see?” That’s really how it all started, with that trip and that experience.
What about your grandfather and how you found his binoculars? Doesn’t everyone say you guys are so similar?
Yes — my grandfather was ill and he had to stay near the hospital. He had this nice community area, right next to a salt marsh. So he had binoculars and a little seating area on the balcony. He would look out with the binoculars at the egrets and other waiting birds that he would see. A couple of years later, he passed away.
When I got into bird watching, I didn’t realize this was something that my grandfather was doing before he passed away. I remember I went to visit my grandmother and she knew that I caught interest in bird watching. At the time I had a small pair of binoculars — that I just kept breaking.
When I came to her house she came into the room that I was staying in and had my grandfather’s binoculars in her hand. She was telling me, “Isaiah, I want you to take these for birdwatching”.
So now I have my grandfather’s binoculars that he used for birdwatching. It just really feels special — how it was passed down from my grandfather to me, kind of continuing the legacy.
Tell me about when you got Nocs? What was that experience like?
I didn’t hear about Nocs until Chris reached out to me. He wanted to send me a pair of binoculars. So I was checking out the site and was like, these look really cool — the design on them and the different colors!
I think it was a couple of days later I received the shipment; I was really excited. I opened them and was like wow! They’re small, lightweight, durable, colorful, and overall a good quality pair of binoculars.
Then I saw in the box, there was another smaller box. I opened it, and it came with this neck strap — a stylish-looking, colorful neck strap that matches the binoculars. I was like, this is dope! This is something I was hyping over — the neck strap. I just love Nocs. Their brand, the cool designs on the neck strap.
They’re just making binoculars cool, colorful, fresh, and really appealing to younger audiences. Not everyone who gets binoculars is old or some creepy stalker.
Nocs’ binoculars just make it more fun and joyful and that’s what I really like.
What helps you be more efficient — any apps that you use? What are your essentials?
My favorite app for birding is called Merlin ID, it’s from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The app can tell you what birds are in your area, what birds you’re likely to see, what birds are more rare. They use high-quality photos, and you can listen to the calls of the birds — see a range map of birds. They also have these downloadable packs. For instance, they have one for birds of eastern North America you can download to get all the species and information.
Another app that pretty much every bird watcher uses now is eBird — another app from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. When you go out birding, you can make a list of species and the quantity of individuals of a species that you see. Then, you’re able to send in the checklist you’ve made. It goes into a system that ornithologists and scientists can use for conservation, to track different birds, and look at migration patterns.
It’s an app that can assist in conservation — like you’re doing your own conservation work.
You can connect eBird and Merlin ID. When you send in an eBird checklist, that data can transfer over to Merlin ID. On Merlin ID, there’s this feature where you have a live list of all of the birds that you see. So the birds that you enter in on eBird can transfer over and be put on the live list. It’s very convenient and an easier way to track all of the species you’ve seen.
Have you always been drawing and journaling?
I have enjoyed drawing since I was little. I was very artistic — loved to paint and draw. Over the years, I had been practicing drawing but it wasn’t until I got into birding that I started drawing birds.
I recently started nature journaling; you document or draw what you see out in nature onto a piece of paper. I think it’s a nice skill to have while you’re birding to interpret what you see on a piece of paper — to look at the details of the birds, like their anatomy.
It makes you pay attention to the birds you’re looking at — to really see birds in a different way and track your bird-watching experiences or trips you went on.
Just your own personal, unique journal where you can have all of the places you’ve been and the different birds you’ve seen. That’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing.
Whenever you see a live bird, do you get excited? How do you react?
I had this experience today — I just get a feeling of excitement. Especially when you’re getting a whole bunch of live birds like I did yesterday, it’s kind of overwhelming. Just this overflow of joy and happiness. It feels like you discovered a new species on a personal level.
It's amazing – the feeling, the experience.
What would you say to someone who wants to get into birding? What would you tell somebody that’s just starting out?
I would encourage them to go out and give it a try. Right now, there’s a need for more people to be outdoors and connect with nature. There need to be more people who care about nature and further conservation of our natural world. Birdwatching is a great way to go about that.
Right now, there’s a need for more people to be outdoors and connect with nature.
Also, just for yourself — I think there are so many great opportunities with birdwatching. If you’re able to, you can travel to different places, join organizations, gain employment… There are just so many endless opportunities with birdwatching and ornithology.
Also, birdwatching is a kind of therapy; it’s really peaceful and good for your mental health. There’s a name for it, ornitherapy — therapy with bird watching.
There are positive effects with birdwatching on your body, mental health, your soul, your spirit… I encourage it.